League leaders Ahmedabad Defenders staved off a strong challenge from home side Kochi Blue Spikers at 3-2 in the RuPay Prime Volleyball League at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Sunday night. With that Ahmedabad, which has won five of its six matches, became the first team to qualify for the semifinals.
Angamuthu Ramaswamy played a huge role in the team’s victory with his fiery smashes, keeping his cool under pressure and pulling Ahmedabad out of sticky situations. He also produced the match-winning spike after the teams were tied 14-14 in the decider. Good support came from Nandagopal who apart from his smart spiking also took turns with Iranian Daniel Moatazedi and setter Muthusamy to keep the Kochi attackers Erin Varghese and Jibin Sebastian at bay in the last set.
Kochi, which joined the party late winning its first match on Saturday after four losses, was on the doorstep of victory against the league leader – it led 2-1 after three sets and also enjoyed a 5-1 lead in the decider – but it could not deliver the knockout punch.
Incidentally, Kochi opted to keep its most expensive player Rohit Kumar, whom it bought for Rs 17.5 lakh at the player auction, on the bench for a major part of the match. But attackers Erin, George Antony, Jibin Sebastian and B.S. Abhinav along with Brazilian blocker Walter Netto rose to the occasion nicely and almost pulled off a sensational victory over Ahmedabad.
The result: Ahmedabad Defenders bt Kochi Blue Spikers 3-2 (15-5, 11-15, 9-15, 15-12, 15-14).
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